From sides of salmon to hunks of glazed ham, going all out for your Christmas feast is one of the major reasons excitement levels reach fever pitch come December 25.
Roast beef has been a player on Yuletide menus for centuries. According to English Heritage, spiced roast beef was a popular addition on Northern Christmas tables in Victorian times (in stark contrast to the South, where Queen Victoria famously went one better than goose and tucked into a roast swan for her Crimbo lunch - occupational perks, one supposes).
There are several ways to enjoy beef at Christmas, from a special Beef Wellington to a roasted topside with a fragrant rosemary crust - or why not start a festive tradition by slow-cooking a brisket or searing a premium steak from one of London’s best restaurants? If you're considering making beef the only centrepiece, a rack of salt-aged ribs can provide the theatre the occasion calls for.
It very much depends on what kind of dish you'll be tucking into, but take your cues from a traditional Sunday roast and elevate them. Think giant Yorkshire Puddings, balsamic roasted mushrooms, maple glazed carrots and Brussels sprouts smothered in a delicious honey Dijon mustard sauce. Macaroni cheese would go down a storm too, especially if topped with shards of crisp bacon.
Potato Dauphinoise feels more special than roasties but if you can't picture a roast without mounds of crunchy spuds, why not add them too? After all, Christmas is the one time of year that it's all about 'and', not 'or'.
What's more, the potential for leftover meals with beef far exceeds what you can do with turkey. It's all about forward planning, folks.
Whether you’re looking for inspiration or you’re not sure where to start shopping for a Christmas beef joint that’s more special than a usual Sunday roast, we’ve gathered the best options here. From premium cuts to all-in-one kits (marinades included), here are our top picks.
From organically reared herds comes this impressive Cote de Boeuf by Daylesford. When the time comes, cuts are dry-aged in a Himalayan salt chamber to encourage umami flavours that will make your Christmas. Order it for delivery up to five days before you plan to prepare it and it'll keep in the fridge or you can freeze it if you want to plan up to a month ahead.
Buy now £28.00, Ocado
You needn't leave the house to enjoy one of Hawksmoor's best dishes. Order it on Ocado and have the cut delivered to your door. Critically acclaimed by the likes of Giles Coren and Jay Rayner, this Porterhouse offers enough to share - especially when you consider sides - and can be frozen if you're ordering a few weeks before you plan to cook it up, preferably medium rare.
Buy now £45.00, Ocado
Watch jaws drop around the Christmas table when you roll out M&S's majestic Tomahawk for your special lunch. Presented on the bone and with a slab of smoked garlic butter, the 21-day matured Aberdeen Angus cut can be pan-fried in as little as four minutes, depending on how rare you like it. Order ahead of time and freeze until Christmas Eve when it should spend the night defrosting in the fridge until it's ready to cook.
Buy now £45.00, Ocado
Weighing some 2.87kg and serving up to 10 people, Waitrose's beef shin has been slow-cooked until it's just falling off the bone. Made to command your party's attention, the Merlot and shallot sauce makes a savoury addition that you'll dream about long after Christmas. Most convincing customer review? "This is the first time that I have had beef as the meat element of my Christmas lunch and I will very happily buy this again next year."
Buy now £27.00, Waitrose
Beef Wellington is a dish that is notoriously challenging to prepare. Save yourself the hassle this Christmas by ordering one made by Fortnum's expert chefs. The team at the famous Royal-approved supermarket use chateaubriand from slow-grown cows for the best flavour, wrapped in mushroom duxelles and buttery puff pastry. All that's needed on your part is to stick it in a hot oven for around 45 minutes. For the sweat saved, it's worth its weight in gold. Got a bigger crowd to feed? A larger version serving 6 - 8 people is available for £120.
Buy now £70.00, F&M
Set the dress code to 'anything elasticated' and prepare to sit down to a feast of monumental proportions with this rack of beef ribs leading the procession. Presented chined and ready to sling into a hot oven, expect deep and delicious beef flavour from this marbled grass-fed cut. It comes in three sizes and the smallest serves eight people, so there's more than enough to go around.
Buy now £139.00, Pipers Farm
See if the Victorians had it right all along by ordering in a joint of spiced beef this Christmas. From cows reared in a family-run farm south of the Scottish Borders, everything is prepared with love and care. Case in point is this expertly crafted spiced British beef made with cinnamon, cloves and allspice. There's no cooking involved: simply slice and serve.
Buy now £40.00, Abel & Co
This family-run outfit is one of the country’s most respected butchers and counts London’s elite hotels as its clients. The bricks-and-mortar store is in Baron’s Court, but if you’re not able to make the pilgrimage, head online to pick up select cuts and grass-fed beef, plus plenty more besides.
For Christmas, we're eyeing up this rib of beef, which has been aged for four weeks and is packed full of flavour. Choose from sizes ranging from 1 - 5 bones to suit your guestlist.
Buy now £49.00, HG Walter
From award-winning chef Tommy Banks comes this all-in-one Christmas menu putting salt-aged Beef Wellington as the star of the show. The meal kit includes everything you need for 2 - 8 people - from amuse bouche to starters, mains and dessert courses. There are even three bottles of booze included to pair with each section. In short, everything you need to enjoy a restaurant-level meal, prepped by the experts and finished by you.
Delivery on Friday, December 22.
Buy now £175.00, Made in Oldstead
From a whole fillet of beef (£125) to a cut called Thor's Hammer, Farmisons is the online butcher to call on come Christmas. For the big lunch, we recommend the 32-day dry aged fore rib of beef, which comes in four sizes - the smallest of which can feed up to six adults. From cattle reared in small Yorkshire farms, it promises to be a visually stunning centrepiece on December 25 with marbled meat caramelising over the cooking process, resulting in slices that are as succulent as they are tasty.
Buy now £57.00, Farmison & Co
From grass-fed British herds comes this huge roasting joint of beef. The 2kg whopper is enough to feed up to 10 people with medium rare cooked in just 40 minutes including resting time. Make lunch even easier by picking up sides like braised red cabbage and Bearnaise sauce along with this cut.
Buy now £65.00, DukesHill
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